Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pet Owners vs. Shelter & Rescues

Everyday thousands of rescues and shelters across this country receive endless pleas for assistance for an animal in need. Most people agree that overpopulation is a problem in our society, but many think that spaying and neutering all animals is the answer. This creates a controversy within the animal welfare industry.

Breeders don't want their species extinct. Rescues and Shelters want overpopulation to stop. Is there a compromise that can be accomplished between the two?

Perhaps bringing some standardization to shelters and rescues and have some stricter regulations on breeding would help. One thing for sure, the state of Iowa admits they can't keep up with all of the individuals in our state breeding animals without licenses. This is where it becomes important that each individual needs to get involved with spreading the word to adopt when possible, or KNOW YOUR BREEDER!

There are some quick and easy ways to check the credibility of both, rescues/shelters AND breeders.

  • The quickest way is to see if they are state licensed. While this doesn't "seal the deal" on responsible, credible individuals or organizations, it does say that they at minimum, paid a fee to operate and are inspected by the state at least once a year.
  • Always ask to visit the facility where the animal is being housed. NEVER meet a breeder or foster in a parking lot or outside of the town where the dog is housed. In some cases, rescues operate on "foster" homes, but reputable rescues will be connected with businesses that allow them to showcase their animals properly. These businesses, like Petco, Petsmart, who have "mobile adoption" opportunities require their partners to be state licensed.
  • Many rescues allow their "fosters" to show the companion and make the final adoption decision. RVAS does not in fact, an RVAS rep is always present unless the foster is a Director or pre-approved, long time well trained foster that has earned their wings to show a companion by themself. The foster has to know the ins and outs of our organization and in most cases, fosters are volunteers who do not want to be that involved with the day-to-day activities of the business.
  • Interview the breeder/rescuer: You are deciding to bring a living creature into your home for life. Don't let the breeder or shelter/rescue give you ultimatums with your adoption/purchase that would hasten your decision (i.e. "well if you don't adopt/buy today it's going to die."). Ask them questions, about the dog's history, both behavior and medically.
    • Shelters/rescues may have limited knowledge of a dog's behavior and/or medical history, but they should be able to tell you it's behavior while in their care. They should also be able to provide you with documentation of all medical care that has been done while in the shelter/rescue care. A high quality rescue and shelter will have the medical history from it's previous owner if it has one. Placing on their contract to "see a vet" and "telling you" they provided vaccinations, doesn't prove they have. Reputable organizations will provide the medical history.
    • Breeders should be able to give you everything, from birth to the adoption of the animal. All medical and developmental history should be made available for you to view before your purchase. You should also be able to see the history of the mother and father of the pups!
  • Registered Papers: Sometimes breeders provide certificates of proof that their dogs are purebreds. Know the difference between AKC papers and APR papers! Do your HOMEWORK on the difference. Just because someone "says it's so" doesn't mean it is. Here is a great link explaining the different registrations.
The bottom line is that the selection of a companion that is right for you shouldn't be taken lightly or be emotionally charged. This is a 10-20 year commitment. Compare it to buying a car. If we charged $40,000 for a companion, you'd think about it. Remember, it can "move" with you, it will go through natural disasters with you, it will have medical needs, it will require food, water and daily care and attention, including proper exercise. It will have behavior issues, some that you may live with, some that you may want to work on changing. And like humans, it will age, and need special care. The companion is not "merchandise" that, if it doesn't work out for you, something to just "return" or "get rid of".
Almost all shelters and rescues have a contract, and require the animal to be "returned' to their organization before being surrendered or given away, but that doesn't mean it's an "out" for you as a pet owner when change happens or times get tough. If you can't make the commitment...for life then consider volunteering your time for your local shelter or rescue. It's a great way to get an "animal fix" and feel good about saving lives!